Is There Such a Thing As a Hardgainer?
The concept of a ‘hardgainer’ is one that circulates often in fitness and bodybuilding communities.
In simple terms, a hardgainer is an individual who finds it notably difficult to put on muscle mass, typically due to a fast metabolism, higher caloric burn rate, having an ectomorph body type, or genetic predisposition.
Proponents of this concept argue that hardgainers need to approach their workout and diet routines differently than their counterparts, focusing on things like specific high-calorie diets, intense workouts, and plenty of rest to stimulate muscle growth.
Some skeptics, however, dispute the existence of hardgainers, attributing difficulties in gaining muscle mass to things like lazy nutrition, inadequate training and a lack of motivation rather than inherent metabolic rate or genetics.
The truth is both of these concepts can be reasons why someone is having trouble making progress, and the concept of a hardgainer is really real.
Regardless of what someone’s view on hardgainers may be many personal trainers and fitness enthusiasts do find value in distinguishing these body types and adjusting routines accordingly.
What Does It Mean To Be a Hardgainer?
Being a “hardgainer” essentially means having a body type that finds it challenging to put on weight, whether it be muscle mass or fat.
It is characterized by a person who has a significantly faster metabolic rate that burns calories more quickly than those with slower metabolisms.
This high-energy output makes them naturally lean, often accompanied by small bone structures, narrower shoulders, and less body fat. A more scientific term to characterize someone with these qualities is an ectomorph.
While being a hardgainer may sound appealing to some due to the lack of fat, it can also be a challenge for those trying to build muscle and increase strength.
A hardgainer has to consume a large number of calories, often more than what they burn, to achieve an increase in muscle mass.
They may need to train with higher intensity or volume, but with plenty of recovery time to avoid the risk of overtraining.
Furthermore, it is important to note that being a hardgainer is not a permanent condition, it can be managed with the right diet and fitness routines tailored to this body type.
What To Do If You Are One Of The Hardgainers
If you find yourself classified as a hardgainer, someone who struggles to put on muscle mass irrespective of consistent training and proper nutrition, don’t despair.
Initially, ensure that your diet aligns with your goal, which is loaded with enough protein and healthy fats. This can also include complex carbohydrates, necessary for energy and strength increase.
Pair your diet plan with a comprehensive workout regimen that emphasizes resistance and strength training to promote muscle growth and development with each rep.
Opt for compound exercises like squats, lunges or bench press which are more energy-intensive and, thus, contribute to muscle building.
For more specific strategies to the proper nutrition and training approach keep reading on.
Also remember rest is just as crucial in this equation, as your muscles need to recover in order to grow after a hectic workout session. (see Which Muscles Recover The Fastest)
How Can an Ectomorph or Hardgainer Gain Muscle?
Ectomorphs, also often known as hardgainers, with their lean, thin physique and fast metabolism can make it challenging to gain muscle mass.
However, with the correct approach, these individuals definitely can effectively develop muscle.
We already talked about the three most important things when it comes to gaining muscle for anyone but especially for hardgainers that being nutrition, training approach and rest, these are things that will definitely be expanded upon in this article but there are still other approaches.
Lifestyle changes can make a large amount of difference when it comes to excelling your muscle building or slowing it down.
Beneficial lifestyle changes such as cutting on unnecessary stress, ensuring optimum sleep and staying hydrated are fundamental to making real progress and should definitely be focused on if they are not already.
Consultation with a qualified fitness expert can also help in designing a custom-made plan suited to your specific needs and goals.
Remember, even as a hardgainer, patience and perseverance are key, as significant changes may take time to manifest. All these steps combined can assist an ectomorph in gaining muscle effectively.
The Best Hardgainer Workout Routine To Build Muscle: Does One Exist?
Does the best hardgainer workout routine to build muscle exist? As it turns out, yes it does. Hardgainers are individuals who find it particularly challenging to gain weight and build muscle due to their fast metabolism.
While this may appear as a disadvantage, certain strength training routines designed specifically for hardgainers can yield impressive results.
One such routine is high-intensity, low-frequency training, which combines substantive lifting with restful periods in between sessions.
Again hardgainers should focus on compound exercises such as squats, deadlifts,bench press and even overhead press (see The Golden Five Exercises) as this helps stimulate multiple muscle groups, promoting overall muscle growth.
They should also focus on keeping it low rep and heavy in order to achieve the right amount of intensity. Doing anywhere from 5 to 8 repetitions for these compound exercises.
Just don’t get carried away and forget about nutrition as it is also a key component to complement these workouts.
So, while there may be no ‘magic formula’ for hardgainers to build muscle overnight, a strategic workout routine coupled with proper nutrition can go a long way in achieving substantial muscle gain.
Nutrition For The Hardgainer:
How Many Calories Should a Hard Gainer Eat?
Hard gainers, or individuals who struggle to gain weight despite eating a lot, have increased dietary requirements to support their high metabolism or hyperactive lifestyle.
The ideal caloric intake for these individuals significantly varies depending on various factors like age, sex, activity levels, and metabolic health.
However it is important for them to eat enough, a general recommendation suggests that hard gainers should consume around 22-25 calories per pound of body weight every day if they are looking to gain muscle.
This means a hard gainer weighing 150 lbs should consume approximately 3,300-3,750 calories daily. A hard gainer’s diet needs to be rich in proteins and complex carbohydrates which should be their primary sources of calories.
It is also essential to evenly distribute these calories throughout the day in 5-6 meals, as consuming this many calories in a day will be very hard to achieve otherwise.
On top of this, they should consider calorie-dense snacks between the meals. Keep in mind that while gaining weight, it is important to focus on gaining lean muscle mass rather than unhealthy fat.
This is why combining a high-calorie diet with a suitable exercise regime is essential.
How Much Protein Should a Hard Gainer Eat?
Protein consumption is crucial for hard gainers to add muscle, the recommended daily amount for a typical person is 50 grams, but hard gainers must consume more to make up for their faster metabolisms.
Studies suggest that hard gainers should consume around 1.2 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of their body weight daily.
For instance, if a hard gainer weighs 150 pounds, they should eat somewhere between 180 and 225 grams of protein in a day. Protein-rich foods like lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, beans, and certain grains should make up the bulk of this intake.
However, it’s important for hard gainers to balance their protein intake with required carbohydrates and fats to ensure they’re meeting their full caloric needs.
How Much Carbs Should a Hard Gainer Eat?
Hard gainers, often referred to as ectomorphs, struggle with gaining muscle mass and weight. Despite rigorous workouts and protein-rich diets alone, they may not see the desired results and have less muscle due to their fast metabolism.
The key to counteracting this is to add a high number of carbs into your diet. Unlike protein and fats, carbohydrates are easier for the body to convert into energy.
It is generally recommended that hard gainers aim to consume around 60% of their daily calorie intake from carbohydrates, depending on their individual metabolic rate and the intensity of their workout.
Assuming an estimated daily caloric requirement of 3,300-3,750 calories for a typical hard gainer, this means approximately 1,980-2,250 calories should come from carbohydrates.
Considering 4 calories per gram of carbohydrates, this translates to roughly 495-562.5 grams of carbs per day.
It is advisable to choose complex carbs and nutrient-rich food such as whole grains, potatoes, fruits, and vegetables for sustained energy and wholesome nutrition.
How Much Fat Should a Hard Gainer Eat?
One of the essential elements to gaining weight for hard gainers is dietary fat intake. But, the question arises: How much fat should a hard gainer eat every day?
The answer to this question can differ based on individual metabolism, and other dietary factors, but most importantly the amount of protein and carbohydrates that have been determined should be consumed within the diet.
Once a hard gainer has determined how much protein and carbohydrates they need to eat in a day to reach their goal the rest of the calories consumed during that day should for the most part come from dietary fat.
For example, if a 150 lbs hard gainer has determined eating 3,500 calories a day is the only way to break their plateau, along with 720 of those calories being protein and 2,100 of them being carbs then the remainder would be 680 calories and the target amount of dietary fat consumed in a day should be 680 calories.
Training Program For The Hardgainer
The upper lower split is specifically designed to overcome the challenges faced by hardgainers in their quest to build muscle and gain weight.
This training methodology typically involves performing an upper body workout one day, followed by a lower body workout the next.
This approach gives individual muscle groups more time to recover and grow while still ensuring a balanced training routine.
Hardgainers, individuals who struggle to put on weight and muscle mass despite regular strength training and a high-caloric diet, tend to benefit the most from this type of split as it allows for greater muscle stimulation without the risk of overreaching or overtraining, which can lead to a decline in performance and potential injuries.
This routine usually consists of compound movements that work multiple muscles at once, stimulating greater hormonal response and muscle growth.
Plus, the Upper Lower Split institute’s more rest days allowing hardgainers to prevent muscle fatigue and support recovery while keeping the workouts short, focused, and efficient.
Push Pull Legs (PPL) split is a structured training method that is another training routine that allows hardgainers to effectively build muscle and strength.
This strategy works on the principle of dividing weekly workouts into push exercises, pull exercises, and leg exercises, typically over a schedule of six days with one rest day.
This split is ideal for hardgainers because like upper lower it focuses on compound moves that solicit multiple muscle groups simultaneously, leading to greater muscle activation and potentially faster muscle growth.
Push day exercises primarily target chest, shoulders and triceps, while pull day exercises focus on the back and biceps. Legs day completes the routine with exercises targeting the lower body.
Another advantage is the reduced risk of overtraining, as although there is more training days each muscle group gets ample rest time before being targeted again.
The versatility and customizable nature of the PPL split, along with its potential for triggering significant muscle hypertrophy, make it a go-to choice for hardgainers striving to overcome their genetic limitations for muscle growth.